It’s funny, because even though I was a nanny, then a pediatric nurse, and having worked with many families and children over the years, when I was handed my own baby, my first born, all of my knowledge and experience went out of the window. My husband and I literally looked at each other, over the top of the car seat, in the middle of the living room floor, with a tiny baby, asleep, on arrival home from the hospital, and said “now what do we do?”. It was and still is, very different having my own children, compared to caring for someone else’s.
Parenting is a learn as you go, job. There are books, websites, experts aplenty, but to be honest, every baby and child is different, and they don’t actually read the instruction manuals or books that we faithfully arm ourselves with before they arrive on the scene.
One thing I found challenging and occasionally still do, is when my children are unwell. Because of my nursing experience, my husband and family tend to look to me to know what to do, and to be the expert. Most of the time, I do know what I am doing (although I always seek appropriate advice if needed) but my confidence in my own abilities took a while to grow. With other people’s children, either caring for them as patients, you have support to bounce your questions or concerns off, and as a nanny, the children’s parents ultimately were in charge. With my own children, the buck, so to speak, stops with me, and their Dad.
What I would say to any new parent is to trust your gut. Most of the time, you know what you or you baby need and whilst things suggested by other people might work, they may not be what suits you and your baby. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, if you have worries or concerns and don’t feel silly for asking for help or advice, even if it seems like a small issue, but always trust your gut.
Nurofen for Children say:
“it’s no surprise that in our survey almost nine in ten first time mums reflect on having a baby as a life changing experience as they rework their normal routines to take care of their little one. During their baby’s first year, mums say they felt the biggest impacts on their relationships work life and friendships. Our research shows that on average, it takes a first time mum six months to feel confident as a parent, and for almost half (47%), the health of their child is one of their biggest parenting worries”.
The first time I had to trust my own instincts was when my daughter was about 10 months old. She had had a bad cold, and was miserable. She had a fever, a snotty nose, a cough developing, typical symptoms of a common viral infection, and at first I wasn’t concerned,and was treating her for those symptoms, but after a day or two of symptoms, she suddenly developed what I knew was a sinister sounding cough/breathing sound. She had, I thought, developed croup. This is a common illness, which usually develops as the result of a viral infection. The infection causes the larynx (voice box) to become swollen and the trachea (windpipe) to become blocked, and may affect the tubes in the lungs (bronchi). It is sometimes called laryngo-tracheo-bronchitis. It can be potentially very serious, because it causes difficulty breathing and with a small child or baby, this is not something you want to mess around with.
I rang the NHS help line and after explaining what I thought was wrong, was told that a doctor would call me back, as soon as they were able. I waited for an hour. I was on my own, at home, and it was early evening, my husband was away on a work trip, so basically it was up to me to work out what needed to be done. All my nursing skills were there, but as a still new parent, my head was all over the place. I knew what to do, and how to treat her, but I didn’t know if I was overreacting, and worrying or if I really should be taking her to hospital.
Before the doctor rang me back, her symptoms started to get worse, and I decided that I wasn’t waiting around, and I called 999. I don’t drive, so putting her in the car and getting her to hospital wasn’t an option, and whilst I have local friends who would have helped, I didn’t think I had the time to call around and ask. The emergency switchboard were helpful, they talked me through her symptoms, I explained I was a nurse and that I felt she needed to be seen urgently. They agreed and an ambulance was on it’s way. They arrived less than ten minutes later, and thankfully they did, because she really started to struggle to breathe, and her skin colour changed and I could see she was in respiratory distress. They had the equipment needed, and were able to help her, and they bundled her and me into the ambulance, and we were taken to our local A&E and admitted and seen straight away. She was diagnosed with croup, and given breathing treatments, and thankfully started to recover quickly (babies can do that, they deteriorate quickly but recover fast too) and after a few hours of being monitored, she was so much better, so they were happy to send us home, with medications to give her. I am glad that I went with my instinct, and decided she needed to be seen and after that, my confidence in my ability to parent improved a great deal.
So, you see, even someone like me, who technically should know what they are doing, had to find her own feet and confidence as a parent and I will always try and support other new mums with ways to boost their confidence. I hope by sharing my story, I can help with that. Parenting definitely takes confidence, don’t be afraid to trust your instincts, or ask for help, every child and family is different, but we all get there…
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